NOTE: Images may be unsuitable for children and those uneasy with death.
Back in the day, when someone died, the family did not immediately call the coroner; they requested a photographer first.
The post-mortem photos or memento mori (Latin for “remember that you will die”) in the slideshow above are a touching and tragic display of loss during the Victorian era.
Infant mortality rates during this time were startling. In working class districts, there were about 274 deaths per 1000 births, and impoverished slums experienced 509 deaths per 1000.
They were subject to infections, disease and mistreatment. Not surprisingly, it has been said that children were often silenced using a mixture of alcohol and opium.
Even adults were susceptible to numerous illnesses, including influenza, scarlet fever, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, typhoid, and measles.
Not to mention, inhumane working conditions and malnutrition also played a factor in premature deaths.
While many people might find the images morbid or graphic, in their own way, they are incredibly beautiful. Each image reminds us that life is transient, that nothing lasts forever.
In many instances, these were the only photographs the family had to honor their beloved, as photography was a very expensive and grueling process.
We can totally imagine being in the place of these families and wanting to have a final memory of our loved ones to cherish. Some folks even chose to have their pets photographed after passing away.
View these unforgettable after-death photos in the slideshow above.